Kentucky is among seven states that will participate in a two-year pilot program to improve teacher training programs.
The initiative was developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and will help states reform the systems that guide what an educator should look like.
Robert Brown, executive director of Kentucky’s Education Professional Standards Board, says the network of participating states will allow Kentucky to develop new initiatives based on best practices
“You have to look beyond your borders. Even though we know we’re on the right track and we’re doing well, are there practices that will inform our work that will make us even better.”
The council has made recommendations to guide the states over the next two years. Brown says Kentucky has already begun to improve how it prepares teachers but says the program will allow the state to align its expectations to recent education reforms.
Nearly half of Kentucky’s 173 school districts have increased local property tax rates as much as possible.
The moves come in light of education cuts at both the state and federal levels. Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes told the Courier-Journal that “districts have no choice” but to turn to local taxpayers in order to find increased funding.
Eighty-one districts in the state have adopted tax rates that will increase revenue by 4 percent. Under Kentucky law, that’s the largest property taxes can be increased without being subject to voter recall.
School officials who have increased local property tax rates say they’re still coming out on the short end despite making the move. The Estill County School Board will see an additional $65,000 from a tax increase approved this year. But officials there are quick to point out that the district's primary state appropriation is down nearly $700,000 compared to 2009.
The presidents of Kentucky’s universities are meeting this week to discuss a higher education funding model that they will propose to the governor and state legislators.
When lawmakers convene the next General Assembly in January, they’ll be tasked with approving the state’s next two-year budget. WKU President Gary Ransdell says the proposal being offered up by the school presidents puts a great deal of emphasis on how many graduates the universities produce.
“The performance funding model will be based primarily on degree production," Ransdell told WKU Public Radio. "In other words, how many more degrees are you awarding over the last three years? It will be a three-year rolling measure of degree productivity. And that’s the primary driver of the performance funding model."
"In the final analysis, that’s what matters to the state: how many more graduates are you putting in the workplace to drive the economy?”
President Ransdell says the proposal by the school presidents also contains requests for capital project funding, with each university contributing a list of priorities it wants the state to support.
The school presidents meet Wednesday in Frankfort.
According to new data on state assessments, Kentucky students are making progress in basic subjects like reading and math. In the second year of the Unbridled Learning testing system, overall student performance showed improvement from 2012.
“The statewide data clearly show we are making progress, though slower than we would like,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in a news release. “We’ve raised expectations and aligned them with what students need to be successful; we are moving in the right direction toward the goal of providing a world-class education for every Kentucky student and ensuring all children graduate college/career-ready,” he said.
Here are some of the scores within the WKU Public Radio listening area.
Bowling Green city schools rank Proficient with an overall district total of 60.0 out of 100 while Warren County schools are classified as Needing Improvement with a total score of 58.3
The Elizabethtown Independent school district gets the top ranking of Distinguished at 64.3 as the overall score while Hardin County schools come in at Proficient with a total ranking of 58.4.
Somerset Independent has an overall score 61.2, making the district Proficient while Pulaski County schools receive the top score of Distinguished at 64.9.
Another Distinguished school system is Daviess County with a district score of 63.9, while Owensboro city schools are ranked as Needing Improvement with a total ranking of 54.1.
You can see how every school system in the state fares, as well as scores for individual schools by clicking here.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says while Kentucky students improved their overall test results from last school year, the state still needs to do a better job with math.
The education department released its annual data measuring individual school and district success Friday. This is the first year Kentucky has comparable results since the state underwent education reforms and changed its accountability system last year.
Kentucky met its annual goals as a state, but over 40 percent of schools fell short. Holliday says part of the problem is math scores and success at the middle school level.
“While we did make improvement we would have liked to have seen it go a little bit faster and so we’ve gone back in and we’re going to be working really hard with schools and districts over the next school year to support them," said the education commissioner.
Holliday says Kentucky’s 86 percent graduation rate was among the top nationwide, but it should be paired with the fact that just 55 percent of students who graduate are prepared for college or career.
The Simpson County, Kentucky school district is requiring all students be college or career ready before getting their high school diploma.
The state measures college and career readiness through various tests and credential students can earn, but it’s not a requirement to graduate statewide.
Simpson County Schools Superintendent Jim Flynn says if his students don’t meet the mark, there are safety nets built into the policy.
“They could go out and show their welding skills, do something that benefits the community that proves even though they didn’t hit a benchmark on some kind of standardized test that they can still contribute positively to the community," said Flynn.
Last year only 30 percent of Simpson County students were college and career ready. Flynn says he expects that number to jump to 75 percent when results are released this week.
Going to college has just gotten easier for high school seniors who have overcome prescription drug abuse.
Attorney General Jack Conway announced a new scholarship on Monday that's targeted to high school seniors who have been impacted by prescription drug abuse, either as a recovering addict, as the child of an addict or in some other way.
The initiative is intended to send a clear message to teens impacted by prescription drug abuse that the future can be bright.
Two $1,500 scholarships will be awarded each year. The first ones will be announced next May.
The scholarships are named in honor the late Sarah Shay of Morehead and Michael Donta of Ashland, both of whom died as a result of prescription drug abuse.
Kentucky’s high school graduation rate is one of the highest in state history and education officials say more students are finishing college and career ready than ever before.
Gov. Steve Beshear joined Education Commissioner Terry Holliday Tuesday in announcing the preliminary results of new assessment data that will be released later this month. Beshear says the state posted an 86 percent graduation rate this year, improving from the 78 percent rate in 2012. .
Also, more than half of Kentucky students are graduating ready for college and career ready, which means fewer remedial courses for those entering college.
Beshear calls it a turning point in Kentucky education history, which he says at times has been embarrassing.
“But thanks to decades of hard work and policy changes Kentucky has carved out a new reputation. A reputation as a reform minded state that is innovative, bold and relentless," the Governor said.
Results for individual schools and districts are expected to be released late next week.
The Kentucky Department of Education will begin preparing to implement new science standards in the next school year.
The standards revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change. A General Assembly committee rejected the standards this week but Governor Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.
Dr. Tom Tretter at the University of Louisville worked on the standards. He’s also helping teachers implement the new lessons. He says even though they haven’t cleared all the legislative hurdles, the state feels it’s best to begin training teachers.
“Given that we feel like its best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," said Dr. Tretter.
Kentucky is among the states providing less per-student funding for public education than they did before the recession.
The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Thursday highlighting education spending over the last few years. The report shows Kentucky’s funding per-student is around 10 percent lower than what it was in 2008.
Jason Bailey is the organization’s Kentucky representative, and was also on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. He says it’s up to state lawmakers to find new revenue and they can start by acting on some of the tax reforms recommended by the panel.
“The reality is that the budget that lawmakers will make during the legislative session will be as bad or worse than the current budget unless we come up with more revenue.”
The center reports only 20 states have boosted education funding through new tax laws since the recession.